Auburn Hills, Michigan –June 18, 2018 — Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a world leader in light weight composite technologies to the automotive industry, today announced that its facility in Van Wert, OH, is celebrating 40 years in business this week.
CSP’s compounding facility in Van Wert is key to the organization’s success. Because CSP develops and compounds its own composite formulations, Van Wert’s ability to compound accurately and effectively impacts many of the company’s global automotive customers. Of the more than 84 thousand tons of sheet molded compound (SMC) compounded by CSP annually, more than 60 thousand of those come from the facility in Van Wert. Much of that is the company’s own, proprietary formulas created by CSP’s team of chemists and engineers located at the company’s global headquarters and R&D center in Auburn Hills.
The Van Wert facility was originally built by The Budd Company to support the organization’s growing customer demand. Its molding plants had a number of new programs including the Corvette fastback, roof and rear fenders, so more SMC was needed.
The very first timecard – Clock 1 as it’s called – at the Van Wert facility belonged to Don Chiles, who began working at the plant in June 1978 as a maintenance worker. Chiles, who received electronics training while serving in the Army, had been employed as contract worker by The Budd Company, installing the electronic controls on the SMC lines within the Van Wert facility, before he was hired full time for the plant. The plant opened for production about a month after Chiles came on board full-time. In the early years, the facility compounded approximately 10 to 12 million pounds of SMC annually.
“Very early on, we had one SMC line, and were running one shift, two days per week,” Chiles explained. “Not too many of us knew a lot about compounding, so there was a big learning curve. As business grew, we eventually added shifts and SMC lines.”
When Gary Grossheim started at Van Wert as the plant manager in 1983, the facility had two SMC lines, running one shift, five days a week. “We supplied the raw material needs for the division and ended up putting three presses in the plant in the late eighties,” he explained. “We used the presses to mold some car parts, such as bumper beams for Mazda. We also supplied secondary parts for the North Baltimore plant.”
One of those secondary parts, according to Chiles, was water skis. At the time, the Budd Plastics Division owned Connelly, a maker of water skis, so Van Wert and the North Baltimore, OH, facility worked together to produce the skis through the late 1980s.
Through the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the facility continued to grow in terms of capacity – up to three SMC machines and three shifts. “The materials were changing – the formulations – but the process stayed pretty much the same,” said Chiles, who by that time had advanced into engineering, and was off the production floor.
“Our biggest year while I was there as plant manager, we actually produced 94 million pounds of SMC,” recalls Grossheim. “We went to a three shift operation, and the third SMC line was actually put in right after I left the plant managers position. But I think the greatest accomplishment was the fact that we met the needs of the division, mainly because of the efforts of our people. And I can’t stress that enough; the people of the Van Wert plant have always been what made it successful.”
The Van Wert facility became part of CSP in 2006, when CSP purchased the ThyssenKrupp Budd’s Plastics Division. Today, the 69,000 square-foot facility employs 85 people on three shifts. In March 2018, they compounded 13.25 million pounds of SMC – a one month record for the facility.
“We are proud of the contribution the team at Van Wert makes to the overall success of CSP every day,” said John Stepleton, plant manager. “We are also proud to have been a part of the Van Wert community for 40 years, and look forward to being here for another 40 years, or more.”
About Continental Structural Plastics
Continental Structural Plastics, a Teijin Group company, has provided leading-edge technologies in lightweight materials and composite solutions for the automotive, heavy truck, HVAC and construction industries for more than 40 years. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, CSP provides full-service engineering support, and holds multiple patents covering materials development and manufacturing processes in composite materials formulation, design and manufacturing technologies. The company has operations on three continents and more than 3,900 employees. For more information, visit www.cspplastics.com.
About the Teijin Group
Teijin (TSE: 3401) is a technology-driven global group offering advanced solutions in the areas of environmental value; safety, security and disaster mitigation; and demographic change and increased health consciousness. Its main fields of operation are high-performance fibers such as aramid, carbon fibers & composites, healthcare, films, resin & plastic processing, polyester fibers, products converting and IT. The group has some 170 companies and around 19,000 employees spread out over 20 countries worldwide. It posted consolidated sales of JPY835 billion (USD 7.6 billion) and total assets of JPY 986.2 billion (USD 9 billion) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018. Please visit www.teijin.com.